I decided to try them because they offered me such an incredible deal to do it for one year. I have never booked a single gig through them although I get a lot of requests for bids, usually for the wrong instruments. It encourages undercutting and there are a lot of harpists that get the work because my fee is higher and the budget brides will always go for the cheapest bid. They rate harpists with stars based on how many gigs you have played through THEM, not how good a harpist you are. It is really just a money maker for them because you are encouraged to pay the $20.00 referral fee. It is great for the harpist who does no other advertising and is willing to “low-ball” on a bid. I have a lot of other work that I get because of the caliber of my playing and the quality of my work, not because of my fee. However it has hurt the market here because so many harpists are willing to go out for less just to get a gig. In the classical freelance scene, I have also had a harpist try to steal a major union contract from me by undercutting me on the cartage fee. This cartage fee had been established in the professional music community for many years and it was shocking to many to see how low a certain harpist would go.
Regarding weddings, I had a bride contact me independently for a bid and then again through gigmasters. I told her the fee is higher with gigmasters because of the referral fee and that I had already quoted her my regular fee and I wouldn’t go lower. I never heard back from her but it didn’t matter because I got booked for that date anyway.
There are some experienced quality harpists listed, but then there are some that I have never heard of before and they are willing to work for less. Recently, I heard from some professionals with discerning ears say that they heard some terrible harpists at certain events. Regardless of hype, I think it is bad for the music community because the public has expectations, and then the performance is disappointing, especially for those who can hear the difference.
“Low-ball harpists” always reduce the standard of quality that really highly trained harpists have to tried to maintain in the business. Regardless of whether the job is a wedding or an opera, many of us have dedicated our lives to the fine art of harp playing and we take our playing very seriously. We don’t play these jobs for extra spending money, we are professional harpists, it is how we MAKE OUR LIVING.
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